Ombudsman raps CBC’s knuckles for coverage of Winnipeg mayoral race

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EDITOR’S NOTE: CBC’s ombudsman ruled the article about Glen Murray met CBC standards for timeliness, balance, accuracy and sourcing. He objected to allowing two sources to voice opinions on Murray’s suitability for mayor. 

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CBC News “crossed the line,” the public broadcaster’s own ombudsman has ruled.

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The publicly-funded network substituted opinions for facts when covering former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray’s failed bid to return to mayor’s seat last Oct. 26, says CBC Ombudsman Jack Nagler, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

“It is worth noting here that Mr. Murray, who had been leading in the polls taken in the weeks leading up to the election, ended up losing the race,” wrote Nagler.

He did not attribute the loss to negative coverage, but added: “There is one particular detail of CBC’s story that I felt crossed the line and was unfair.”

Murray — now working as a consultant — is a former Winnipeg mayor who was also an Ontario cabinet minister during his tenure as a Liberal MPP from 2010 to 2017.

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He became executive director of the environmental research group, Pembina Institute, in 2017. He failed to win the job as Winnipeg’s mayor in 2022.

Last September, the CBC called Murray the “election front-runner” when it reported allegations of improper conduct against him. The network reported Murray quit the Pembina Institute in 2018 “following complaints about his management” including harassment, excessive drinking and “sexual innuendo.”

Murray denied wrongdoing.

Nagler ruled the CBC “crossed the line” in reporting the opinions of Murray’s accusers regarding his fitness to serve as mayor.

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“Their opinions on Glen Murray’s suitability as mayor were beside the point. It didn’t advance the story in a meaningful way. To have the article conclude with this section, to have the two speakers serve as the final word on the subject, felt like piling on,” Nagler wrote.

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“With only a few weeks to go before election day, CBC would have been wise to simply let Winnipeggers read the story and process it on their own as they decided what to make of Glen Murray’s candidacy.”

Melanie Verhaeghe, senior manager at CBC Manitoba, defended the network’s coverage of Murray, noting its reporting relied on named sources, such as co-workers from the Pembina Institute.

“The mayor of Winnipeg oversees the running of the city and its $1.9 billion operating budget,” wrote Verhaeghe.

“It is a significant job with significant responsibility. Serious candidates should expect close scrutiny.”

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